Fast food uniforms were far more funky and colorful back in the 1970s

Ronald McDonald was not the only employee dressed like a clown.

Slinging burgers is not an enviable job. The pay is typically minimum wage and your clothes end up reeking of french fries. Still, many of us worked in the fast food industry at some point in our life. There are positives, like learning how to deal with customers and business heirarchy. That being said, those smells that would never wash out of your uniform….

Speaking of the uniforms, it could feel rather ridiculous slipping into those polyester get-ups.

In the 1970s, the typical fast food employee look was part court jester, part flight attendant. The color palette was deeply Seventies — browns, oranges, yellows — the same as wood panelling and shag carpeting. And, oh, were there stripes.

Let's take a trip back to a time when a Big Mac cost 65¢. Here are some of our favorite fast food unis of the 1970s.

Burger King

The Ketchup and Mustard Look

Image, left: sa_steve via Flickr / right: YouTube

In the early 1970s, BK workers somewhat resemble the Jackson 5. Even the TV commercials depicted the staff as some kind of choreographed R&B group.

The Sunset and Chocolate Look

Image: Burger King / YouTube

Circa 1978, Burger King workers were looking more like cooked beef than condiments.


The Clinical Look

Perhaps its the stiff posing, or maybe its the smock, but the employees on the right had an eerie drone vibe about them. The throwback paper caps were a remnant of the earliest McD's uniform.

Arches and Stripes

Image, left: McDonald's / right: sa_steve via Flickr

Baby blue and burgundy became the standard colors in the late 1970s.

The color scheme carried over into the 1980s, which you can see in this amazing "Clean It" training video featuring a Michael Jackson impersonator. A different decade, but we had to share this.


Ring Around the Collar

Hardee's went with something closer to a baseball uniform, with a thick, white "headspoon" trim on creamsicle orange. There was something sci-fi about these, which is perhaps not ideal serving meat.

Taco Bell

Stripes, Stripes, Stripes!

The Bell went with a more overt desert sunset motif. Yes, indeed, that is Patrick Duffy of Dallas fame in the commercial on the left.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Bow Ties and Overalls

KFC workers mirrored the Colonel himself, with men sporting his trademark black string tie, and the restaurant's buckets, with women in red-and-white stripes.

Burger Chef

All Smiles

See? Emojis go way back, kids. The bygone chain featured a smiley face pattern before shirting to a standard Seventies brown-orange-yellow stripe look. Everyone wanted to dress like the San Diego Padres, it seems. Oh, and that is Eve Plumb, a.k.a. Jan from The Brady Bunch, in the 1977 ad on the left.

So, which outfit would you be most willing to wear?

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JohnBates 45 months ago
JohnBates JohnBates 45 months ago
1971 McDonalds' ad with Anson"Potsy" Williams and John"James Evans" Amos.(Of course John Amos later owned "McDowell's" in "Coming To America."
JDnHuntsvilleAL 52 months ago
Maybe it's because I'm sort of from the '70s, too, but I don't see anything wrong with these uniforms.
Same here -- just keep in mind these articles are written by Millennials, and well, you know ...
RussCrossley 64 months ago
I worked at Denny's in the 70's and the uniforms were pretty funky as were the interiors of the restaurants back then. I couldn't find a photo of one but someone out there may have one.
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